Monsters of the Deep!

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SWBAT identify at least 3 different animals that live in the aphotic zone.

Big Idea

Diving to 3000 feet and deeper! Looking through the submersible's window, students observe the other wordly animals that call this dark, cold place their habitat.

Question for the Day

5 minutes

I start the discussion by telling students we will be looking at animals that live in the aphotic zone. Their first comment is what is the aphotic zone. I have hooked students with new vocabulary. If science terms are introduced in context, students readily embrace the new vocabulary.

There are many terms used to designate some of the deepest areas in the ocean, midnight zone, trench, one of my students asked if he could label his paper with this term. I chose aphotic because it means no light, a = not, no and photic =light.

Question for the Day: What lives in the aphotic zone?

I signal students to the rug, and present the question: What lives in the aphotic zone? I ask students to turn and pair share their ideas. 

Since we live close to the Pacific Ocean, many of my students are familiar with a variety of ocean animals. The pair share provides an opportunity for students to express what they know about a topic that is of a high interest for many of them.

Next I write a student list of animals that they think live in the deepest parts of the ocean. This information is useful to me because it allows me to quickly assess what the students know about the deep sea habitat, based on the animals they share.

"We are going to travel along with some scientists who are in a submersible to observe the animals that live in the deepest parts of the ocean. We will take observations of the animals we see, maybe we will see some of the same animals that we listed on our chart."

Student Investigation

20 minutes

Students choose to sit at their desk or on the rug with their clipboard and Aphotic Animal Observations worksheet. I have cued  Youtube to a 15 animal count down. I chose this video segment because it was short and included animal image and information. The observation page provides a focus and a way to organize their observations.

"Marine biologists, today, we will observe some of the animals that are able to survive in a part of the ocean that is like traveling to another planet! The part of the ocean we are going to visit is called the aphotic zone. This part of the ocean has little or no light. Imagine that we are traveling with marine biologists in their submersible. You job is it to write observations about the animals you see, so that we can share what we observed with our families that did not have the opportunity to travel in the submersible. Here we go!"

2nd graders are usually open to play act and respond enthusiastically when they get to play act and use their imagination. So off we go to the deep, dark, ocean.

After each viewing of an animal, I pause the video so that students have time to complete their observations. I write the animal names on the board.

Here is another link for deep ocean creatures.

This lesson was presented to 75 2nd graders. When the other 2nd grade teachers heard about this project, they wanted to provide this opportunity to their students too. I offered to present the project to 2 other classes. Due to time constraints and the number of children in the room, I did not pass out the observation worksheet or pause the video after each animal.

Instead I gave students lined paper and asked them to to write the to write the name of the animal and any other information they learned about the animal. Some students were able to jot notes, some got the list of the animals, and other struggled to get any of the animal names, even with me writing the animals on the board.

After the video I walked around to see what students had written and to discuss with individuals which animal he or she would want to make.

I will provide time for students to work with the video and observation form when we go to computer lab. The students were so enthralled with seeing the images and hearing the information, that to stop the video to take notes would have made it hard for some students to maintain their interest.

Now all the students have had an overview of the animals. It be easier for them to review the animals at their own pace. Students will link to the video through my class website.

Students left excited about the project. This is a wonderful way to kick off our Ocean unit in the near future.


10 minutes

After the video, I ask students to review their observations and to circle the animal that 'stood out for them'. Then I say the animal names and ask students to stand if this was the animal they circled. They sit with the other students that circled this animal and discuss why they starred this animal. This gives students an opportunity to move around and discuss what was most interesting to them.

Since there were too many kids in the room, I asked students to share with a neighbor which animal they would want to make.

After students have a chance to share, about 3-5 minutes, we review the list of animals that we wrote at the beginning of class , add any new animals they learned about and see if there are any we want to take off.

"That was an exciting exploration, not many people get to travel to aphotic zone. How would you like to turn our classroom into an ocean of the deep? You could make your own monster of the deep that we could hang in the classroom."

I project the Monsters of the Deep Letter that I will send home with the students explaining this voluntary activity. Attached to the letter is information about a place called T4T.

"This is the letter that explains the project about making a 3D deep ocean creature. You will need to share this letter with your parents.

"This is an optional assignment, that means you can decide to do it or not. I would love to see you bring in a deep sea animal, but I also understand that you may have a really busy schedule and may not have the time for this project. It is up to you and whatever you decide is fine."

I summarize the letter and show the monster of the deep handouts.png that they can refer to when creating their animal. I remind students to take home their observation page to help them choose and design their animal. I also point out the Trash 4 Teaching, T4T, flier and explain that they could work on their animal at T4T or pick up materials to use to build their animal.

Students place their letter and observation page in their homework folder to go home.

I choose to make this a voluntary project, because there may be a lot going on at home, or there may not be much parent support. Or, some students may not be interested in working on this, so there is no need to insist that they do it. I do provide a 'homework coupon' for students who choose to do this optional project, since I know this can take a bit of time to finish.

I usually have at least 85% participation and parents are pretty enthusiastic about the project. They tell me they have a good time working with their child and like the creative aspect of the assignment.



Examples of Student Projects

5 minutes

Monsters of the Deep Projects

Here are some of the projects students turned in for the 2014 - 2015 school year. Many students used the Trash for Teaching resource. For the first time students built vent worms!